#KeyLIMEPodcast 292: If you build it, will they come?

It is often noted that those who need faculty development the most are not those who participate – is this due to lack of interest, busy schedules, low motivation, not enough incentives? This week’s KeyLIME episode sees the hosts discussing a paper that looks to understand and address challenges with faculty nonparticipation in a required teaching qualification program.

Will the reasons for low participation be the ones you expect? Listen in to find out.

KeyLIME Session 292

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Van Bruggen et. al., Developing a Novel 4-C Framework to Enhance Participation in Faculty Development. Teach
Learn Med. Aug-Sept 2020;32(4):371-379


Linda Snell (@LindaSMedEd)


There is an inverse relationship between those who need Fac Dev the most and those who participate. A number of countries have mandated teacher training or certification, and developed teacher competencies. University health centres often have low faculty participation in Fac Dev activities, even when all faculty are required to obtain a teaching certificate. Clinician and basic science teachers have responsibilities for patient care / research and teaching, and teaching may be less incentivized (e.g. in promotions criteria, status of teaching vis-à-vis other academic activities) so simply mandating faculty development or a teaching certificate may not motivate them to attend.

Few studies on ‘mandatory’ Fac Dev, particularly on non-participation.


To better understand and address challenges with faculty nonparticipation in a required teaching qualification program.
– needs assessment study designed to examine the problem,
– review of the literature,
– development of a framework to address the problem.

Key Points on the Methods

All faculty teachers (clinicians, basic science teachers) at UMC Utrecht must obtain a teaching qualification certificate, within two years of appointment for new faculty.
This certificate based on a teaching portfolio with evidence of
(1) teaching experience
(2) teaching skill acquisition (Fac Dev participation),
(3) actual teaching skill (i.e. learner evaluations, peer or expert observers),
(4) reflective thinking about their teaching

Study participants: faculty teachers at UMC Utrecht
Group a (inactive group): those who were stalled or had never started the certification process; n=23 – individual interviews – were asked to specify reasons for not obtaining, or starting but not finishing the certification process, the most important barriers to obtaining a certificate, suggestions for overcoming these barriers, recommendations for how the certification process could be improved.

Group b (active group): those who were actively engaged in the process but had not yet obtained certification; n=25 – focus group with small group discussions re the challenges/difficulties they encountered, tips on overcoming challenges, ideas on how the certification program could help.

Group c: (obtained group): those who had successfully obtained their certificates; n=156 – online questionnaire
rate different program elements using a 5-point scale and narrative general comments, valued aspects of the program, and recommendations for improvement.

With a constructivist perspective, used inductive thematic analysis to analyze narrative data from all 3 groups. A clear description given.

They also did a literature review on FacDev in HPE using a hermeneutic approach; compared the themes from the needs assessment study to findings from the lit review.

Reflexivity description discussed ‘insider/outsider’ status.

Key Outcomes

Gr a: 8/23 (34.8%) agreed to be interviewed; Gr b: 7/25 (28.0%) participated in the focus group; Gr c: 83/156 (53.2%) completed the questionnaire.

Three themes identified in interviews, similar to themes from focus group session and narrative comments from the questionnaire.

Barriers and context experienced with the certification process:
1) tension between skill development and qualification, time commitment vs perceived outcome
2) workplace priorities and culture, less value on teaching
3) low visibility and issues with feasibility of the teaching role.

Triangulated themes from the above study with the literature review findings: four distinct domains of challenges/solutions “the 4C’s of faculty development
Competence, skills that faculty teachers need for teaching responsibilities and support the institution’s educational mission
Context, resources needed e.g. time, funding, staff support, and facilities, for teaching, personal skill development and innovation
Community, of practice for support, collaboration, mentoring, and identity formation, advocacy.
Career, ensuring career viability of faculty teachers within academic settings. E.g. documentation and recognition of excellence and clear career pathways for teachers with opportunities and criteria for advancement.

Link these with the four conditions of change outlined by Kirkpatrick: people must have
1) the desire to change, 2) the knowledge of what to do and how to do it, 3) a supportive environment, and 4) reward for changing,

Key Conclusions

The authors conclude… ‘Successful faculty development requires institutional buy-in and attention to the institutional context and culture, faculty teachers’ lived experiences, and the academic support of all faculty teachers.’ The 4-C framework of competence, context, community, and career, may help focus institutional attention on the solutions required other than programing. In order to lead to real improvements, institutional stakeholders need to be engaged throughout the process of identifying and addressing local challenges and institutions must commit to creating environments that are both structurally and culturally supportive for faculty teachers.

Spare Keys – other take home points for clinician educators

Should we use LH for low stakes formative assessments? Even ‘low stakes’ can be viewed as high stakes by learners. LH may affect rater cognition – influence what is actively observed, or how information is processed and categorized

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